Teen Donates 30,000 Pairs of Shoes to Houseless L.A. Individuals

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In the months leading up to Lindsay Sobel's bat mitzvah, she took notice of the world around her in a way that she hadn't considered before. Sobel, only 12 at the time, realized that not everyone had the same privilege that she took for granted. As a resident of Los Angeles, Sobel noticed that one of the many issues faced by the city's houseless population included the lack of proper footwear.

"I noticed a lot of them were in really awful living conditions, no way any person should have to live. On top of that, I noticed a lot of them did not even have shoes on," she said. "At 12 years old, I was like, 'Wow, people don't have shoes?' It kind of put things into perspective for me."

In order to uphold the values of tikkun olam—an act of "repairing the world" that is central to the celebration of a bar or bat mitzvah—Sobel came up with the idea of Shoes for Soles, a charitable outreach program that collects and distributes footwear for Southern Californians in need.

"Part of the requirement for having a bar or bat mitzvah is that in some way you give back to your community, give back to the world," Sobel continued. " decided I wanted to give back as big as I could."

Since establishing the nonprofit, Shoes for Soles has "re-homed" over 30,000 pairs of gently used shoes. Sobel is determined only to accept shoes in good condition.

"I want to try to give the best experience to all the people," she said. "A fresh, new pair of shoes can really brighten someone’s day, brighten their attitude, and their outlook on life."

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